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Webmail evaluation

Student portal project

Date: 17 May 2006

evaluation Student portal project Date: 17 May 2006 PROJECT DOCUMENTATION WEBMAIL EVALUATION Student Portal -

PROJECT DOCUMENTATION

WEBMAIL EVALUATION

Student Portal - Webmail

Release: Final Date: 11 th May 2006

Authors: Matt Baker (Mark McLaren, Sarah Agarwal)

Document Number: n/a

Document Location

This document is only valid on the day it was printed. The source of the document will be found at: \\Mis-app.admin.bris.ac.uk\users\ips programme office\Portal Project\Student portal.

Background Documentation

Requirements have been gathered from existing student portals in the market place (The Open University, University of Nottingham) and from the following documentation, which can be found at: \\Mis-app.admin.bris.ac.uk\users\ips programme office\Portal Project

Webmail evaluation

Student portal project

Date: 17 May 2006

Approvals

This document requires the following approvals.

Name

Signature

Title

Date of

Version

Issue

Sarah Agarwal

 

Project Manager

12/5/06

 

Distribution

This document has been distributed to

Name

Title / Role

Date of

Version

Issue

Sarah Agarwal

Project Manager

12/5/06

Final

Matt Baker

UNIX systems administrator

12/5/06

Final

Mark McLaren, Gary Brown, Dave Rawlins, Anne Madden

Portal development team

12/5/06

Final

Luke Taylor

ADT Manager

12/5/06

Final

Neil Elliot

Email Replacement Project

12/5/06

Final

John Richards

Email Replacement Project Manager

12/5/06

Final

Henryk Glogowski

Network Manager

12/5/06

Final

Tim Phillips

Senior Supplier, Student Portal Project

12/5/06

Final

Table of Contents

Document Location

1

Background Documentation

1

Approvals

2

Signature

2

Distribution

2

Executive Summary

3

Clients tested

4

Others not

5

5

Feature Matrix Diagram

5

Installation notes:

7

Purpose of Document

To document the evaluation of shortlisted webmail clients, in particular the extent to which candidate systems can become a useful, useable and accessible channel within the forthcoming Student Portal.

Webmail evaluation

Student portal project

Date: 17 May 2006

Executive Summary

6 webmail systems were installed and tested. Of these only two are recommended for consideration as potential university webmail systems and for integration with the Student Portal: Horde IMP and SquirrelMail.

Based on the evaluation detailed below we rated these two systems as follows:

 

Overall suitability as potential university webmail system

1

Overall suitability for integration

with the Student Portal

2

Horde IMP

97%

93%

SquirrelMail

75%

62%

Notes

1 This figure is based on how statistically successfully the two systems satisfy the requirements in the Feature Matrix Diagram and the Extended User Requirements tables. 2. This figure is based on an equal combination of note 1 and the subjective view of the assessors, expressed as a percentage, of how successfully and easily they believe they could integrate each system with the Student Portal.

As well as the technical evaluation below, the following points combine to make Horde IMP a significantly better general choice for webmail:

migrating from SilkyMail to Horde IMP is a natural evolutionary step to take since SilkyMail was originally based on Horde code.

Horde IMP supports the IMSP protocol (for contacts and preferences).

SquirrelMail is frames based, which means that the system does not meet the legal minimum level of accessibility stipulated by the Special Educational Needs and Disabilty Act (2001), via the W3C’s Web Accessibility Initiative.

In terms of integrating webmail with uPortal and CAS, the following points also strongly favour Horde IMP:

It is difficult to find complete sources of data on Horde IMP and SquirrelMail usage. However, there is a large body of evidence (listed below) to suggest that Horde IMP works well in a production environment with uPortal and CAS. In contrast there is little evidence of SquirrelMail being used with CAS and uPortal except for a proof of concept conducted by Project SWISh at the University of Exeter. This has never been tested in a production environment.

Institutions known to be using Horde IMP with uPortal and CAS:

Yale University (original developers of CAS authentication) University of Liverpool Hull University California State University, Chico Coastal Carolina University ESUP - a consortium of 27 French Universities:

* Université Paul Sabatier

* INPT

* Université de Toulouse 1

* Université de Limoges

Webmail evaluation

Student portal project

Date: 17 May 2006

* Université de Versailles

* Université du Havre

* Centre Champollion ALBI

* INSA

* UTT

* Université Paris 7

* IUFM Lille

* UTMB

* Université Blaise Pascal

* Université d'Auvergne

* IUFM

* IFMA

* Université Pierre et Marie Curie (CEVIF)

* Université Evry Val d'Essonne (CEVIF)

* Université Paris Sud (CEVIF)

* Université Paris Nord (CEVIF)

* Université d'Angers

* INSA de Lyon

* IUFM Basse Normandie

* Université de Toulouse 2

* Université de Marne la Vallée

* Université de Paris 1

* Université du Maine

Clients tested

These were shortlisted based on the list provided by Neil Elliot, and their ability to meet basic requirements set out in the table following, titled ‘Requirement Group’.

Horde IMP – www.horde.org

SquirrelMail – www.squirrelmail.org

IlohaMail – www.ilohamail.org

prayer - www-uxsup.csx.cam.ac.uk/~dpc22/prayer/

@Mail – www.atmail.com

Roundcube – www.roundcube.org

#

Requirement Group

 
 

Availability

ease of install, access to code for customisation, access to support, ease of maintenance.

 

Code friendly

could the application be easily customised at the code level or at the pre-rendered state (i.e. Themes, CSS, templates.)

 

Server support

Could the application be integrated with the existing IMAP servers?

 

Features

simplicity, accessibility, LDAP directory Address Book, interface aesthetics.

 

Security

SSL/TLS IMAP support, reported to or could be “hacked” to work with CAS.

 

Recommended

Recommended by other technical staff as a consideration.

Webmail evaluation

Student portal project

Date: 17 May 2006

Others not tested.

If the application looked as if it would be difficult or impossible to get it to work with more than one of the essential criteria it was not tested.

Application

Reason

Byanari Insight

Didn't see the point in paying for what basically looks like a really old version of Horde!

XandMail

Appeared to be a mobile based solution only. Also did not get a response from the trial download request form.

Mailr

Ruby-on-Rails would be a large learning curve for developers wishing to customise.

Requirements

1-10 Taken from Portal Email Statement of Requirements. Item 1 has been merged as the application will only provide support for one level (WM1.2). Other levels are beyond the scope of the testing. 11-21 Initial considerations for package selection.

#

Requirement Group

Abv

1

Authentication (CASification) – Desktop Client side

CAS

2

Integration – Ability to link to Webmail application

LW

3

Integration - Ability to link to compose window

LC

4

Integration - Ability to insert data into compose fields.

ID

5

Integration – Ability to customise composition pages.

CC

6

Integration – Ability to link to other webmail client facilities

LF

7

Availability – up 24-7

AV

8

Platform Independent – Browser compatibility

PL

9

Intuitive - Navigation

IN

10

Legal - Conform to Special Educational Needs and Disability Act 2001

LE

11

Availability – GPLd, support, forums.

AB

12

Code friendly

CF

13

Server Support – IMAP (specifically cyrus, sieve, acl)

SS

14

Server Support – Code platform independent

SC

15

Server Support – OS compatibility, other services (e.g. Oracle).

SO

16

Features – Simplicity, usability.

FS

17

Features – LDAP address book

FL

18

Features – Aesthetics

FA

19

Security – SSL/TLS

SSL

20

Maturity

MA

21

Maintainability

MT

Feature Matrix Diagram

Application

CAS

LW

LC

ID

CC

LF

AV

PL

IN

LE

AB

CF

SS

SC

SO

FS

FL

FA

SSL

MA

MT

Horde

* *

 

* *

 

* *

 

* *

 

* /

 

*

* *

 

*

*

* *

 

*

 

* *

*

 

SquirrelMail

* *

 

* *

 

* *

 

* *

 

* /

 

*

 

.

* *

*

   

.

 

* *

* *

 

Webmail evaluation

Student portal project

Date: 17 May 2006

Application

CAS

LW

LC

ID

CC

LF

AV

PL

IN

LE

AB

CF

SS

SC

SO

FS

FL

FA

SSL

MA

MT

IlhoaMail

.

*

* *

 

*

*

*

*

*

 

. .

   

*

*

           

Prayer

   

*

   

* *

 

*

*

*

/

     

*

 

*

   

*

 

*

.

.

@Mail

       

*

 

*

       

*

 

*

.

 

*

*

     

RoundCube

 

*

   

* *

   

/

   

* /

   

*

 

*

*.

*

*

 

*

.

.

.

.

Key:

* - full support. / - Partially or not confirmed (most likely passes) . - requires rewriting of code patching, unsupported or 3 rd party plugins. Blank – failed criteria. Definitely not!

 

Extended User Requirements

 

Taken from ECP-User-Consult Document.

 

#

Requirement

 

Priority

H

S

I

P

@

R

UA01

Accessibility Availability Once-only authentication Multiple Mailbox access Mailbox ACL compliance Responsive Intuitive interface Function clarity New window launching Changeable skins Uncluttered view Folder management Folder content sorting Email search Unread mail indicator Quota used indicator New mail alert Open at oldest unread message Subscription aware Header download Attachment list URL viewers View full headers Print full headers Capture addresses True URL display Vacation message Reply recipient selection Draft storage Spell Checker Attachment handling Signatures Read receipt generation Address Book Nicknames Forward as attachment Personal Address Book Global Address Book

 

Must

 

/

/

UA02

Must

*

*

*

*

UA03

Must

*

*

.

.

UA04

Must

*

*

*

*

UA08

Must

*

*

*

UI01

Must

*

*

*

*

*

*

UI02

Must

*

*

*

/

*

UI03

Must

*

*

*

/

*

UI07

Must

 

*

UI08

Must

 

*

*

*

*

*

UI10

Must

*

*

*

*

*

UV01

Must

*

*

*

/

UV03

Must

*

*

/

UV07

Must

*

*

*

*

UV08

Must

*

*

*

*

*

UV09

UV12

Must

Must

*

*

*

*

*

.

.

*

UV13

Must

*

UV14

Must

*

*

*

*

UV16

Must

*

*

*

*

/

*

UR01

Must

*

.

*

*

*

UR03

Must

*

.

/

*

*

UR07

Must

*

*

*

*

*

*

UR08

Must

*

*

*

*

*

*

UR09

UR10

Must

Must

*

*

*

.

.

*

UM04

Must

*

.

UC01

Must

*

*

*

*

*

UC02

Must

*

*

*

*

UC04

Must

*

*

*

UC06

Must

*

*

*

*

*

*

UC07

Must

*

*

*

*

*

*

UC13

Must

*

*

UC14

UC16

Must

Must

*

*

*

*

*

*

.

UB01

UB03

Must

Must

*

*

*

*

*

*

.

.

.

.

Webmail evaluation

Student portal project

Date: 17 May 2006

Key:

* - full support.

/ - Partially or not confirmed (most likely passes)

. - requires rewriting of code patching, unsupported or 3 rd party plugins.

Blank – failed criteria. Definitely not!

Installation notes:

The following are some general notes which may be of use to the Email Team.

Squirrel mail

Q. SSL connections? get errors when trying to use TLS connections.

A. Needs to connect to 993 as well as TLS. TLS doesn't work over plain.

Uses frames but I get the feeling it doesn't have to be that way. Linking with applications and filling fields may be an issue.

Q. CAS support

A. http://gilead.ex.ac.uk/swish/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=113&Itemid=9 requires the

use of an imapproxy to cache connections to prevent overheads of multiple logins.

Seemed to have quite a good following and lots of plugins. With a bit of work it could be a good contender.

IlohaMail

Doesn't appear to be any support for TLS/SSL connections to imap server. Therefore cannot test connections to staff-imap-srv. Makes use of frames and there's a fair amount of clutter (e.g unneeded features). PHP based so should be fairly easy to work with. It looks as if it would be a pain to maintain it and no real community for support.

Prayer

It looks very old and basic. Boasts at being very fast due to internal ssl caching and being built as a C app. It however is the most ugliest thing I've seen. Accessibility may good as it holds a simple intuitive layout, customisation and integration may also be simple. Has a manual 'Config' no autoconf so install is fairly cumbersome. Server needs UoB CA cert added so client as it doesn't accept self signed certs. Runs as it's own webserver daemon (on port 81 ssl on 82)

I cannot find any info on whether it can work with CAS.

Looks like quite a robust app and I would imagine could be good for high load situations. Also allows for load balancing against multiple back ends.

@Mail

Is the only commercial app tested. It also can come with a IMAP server which some of the features seemed to be tailored for. Oriented towards ISP/Reseller audiences. Allows for multi-level rights for administrative users through web interface. Bit of an overkill though. Is cgi perl based. Has perl installer. Requires a mysql database but rumoured to support Oracle in the purchased version. Installer likes to mess with your config files but can be bypassed. Has huge admin area although you need to restart apache to apply changes. Doesn't appear to support an ssl/tls enabled imap server (except in the Server package)! Interface looks Ajax based. It's pretty hard to make sense of what everything does. Functionality will likely differ between browsers. Accessibility might be an issue. There is however a simple layout option which looks easier to use. Navigation tab order is still not as you'd expect. No real indication where links take you (no tool tips, no descriptive text).

Webmail evaluation

Student portal project

Date: 17 May 2006

Roundcube

Requires a mysql/pgsql database. Has a very basic layout and is quick. Not many links to click on. AJAX based interface gives some nice gimmicks but lacks usability. Probably the best looking one. Doesn't appear to be an easy way to link direct to messages, but you can to folders and compose window. Supports LDAP address book but it doesn't appear to work. It's a very new project and has little support or development.

Horde/Imp

Plenty of sources for getting it to work with CAS. There are already authentication options in the Admin section for CAS without patching. It supports an Oracle preferences back end. Can be stripped to just have IMP single frame (no side nav bar), and still link to other sections (e.g. address book) from the top nav. Natively supports cyrus sieve filters(Ingo) and mailbox sharing (access control) and LDAP directory ab(turba). Can be configured to connect to multiple backend imap servers by drop down list. Could even be customised to select a backend dynamically based on a map lookup though a custom login hook. (Hooks are basically sourced scripts maintained outside of the main code tree so don't get overwritten by upgrades). Upgrades have become increasingly easier in the last few years but best method is to checkout CVS HEAD and use upgrade detection scripts in web administration. Configuration is a mix of file includes and xml generated files. Lots of user defaults can be set from templates. Customisation (branding) should be fairly simple without needing to rewrite main code.